Family Ties Finale

Our red tail hawk youngsters have been growing, and growing, and growing during the past two weeks, and testing their flight feathers by going airborne above the nest whenever a good gust of wind blows across the plains. It’s been seven weeks since the first of two eggs were hatched, and both parents have done a spectacular job of tending to the non-stop feeding and nest cleaning. We’ve paid daily visits to the nest to watch these youngsters develop, and this is the final installment in our coverage as they join the ranks of young adults.

First observed late evening flight while Mom hunts dinner.
Next morning, getting a little braver as sibling looks on.
Higher still!
First sibling has made it airborne enough to reach a higher perch, so now it’s time for #2 to get serious about this flying thing.
Here’s how it’s done! We gave this guy the name, “Valiente”, or Brave.
Later that afternoon, Sibling #1 takes to the sky and joins Mom on the nearby telephone pole. Already the youngster appears to be bigger than Mom.
And then there was ONE.
My name for this guy, “El Guason”, the Trickster or Joker.
Stubbornly, our second adolescent would not fly for us that afternoon, and when we returned this morning, he had flown. No worries, we’re just glad to see two healthy young red tail hawks make it safely from the nest.
Mom had been watching me from a nearby pole, and when it was time to brag about a job well done, she made a full circle of where I was standing as a farewell salute. Congratulations, Mom!

Family Ties Update #2

It’s been over two weeks since our last update to a previous post about a family of red tail hawks and the care and feeding of two fluffy white chicks in the nest. Well, in that short time period, those chicks have been growing, and today they appear nearing that time when they are fully fledged and ready to leave the nest. We observed them both testing their flight feathers and strengthening those wings for a day in the not too distant future when the parents’ job will be complete.

One sibling to another, “so, are you quite done?”
Not far away, Mom multi-tasks, as all moms do, keeping watch on the youngsters and hunting for lunch.

Family Ties Update

A week ago, I posted a story about a family of red tail hawks that had just hatched a little one and were tending the nest just outside of town. A return visit to the nest today begged for an update to the story:

After a week of absence, we dropped by the red tail hawk nest today, and to our great surprise, we spot a second little hawk on the nest. Mom & Dad were not far away, hunting for lunch and keeping a watchful eye on their brood.
A short time later, Mom returns and fills the bottomless bellies of her little ones, who immediately stretch out for an afternoon nap.

Family Ties

Spring has always been a time of renewal of life, a busy time of birth, new growth, and an awakening of all species. Nothing is more representative of that than a family of raptors nursing eggs to life, and caring for new youngsters. Just outside of town we’ve been watching a pair of redtail hawks tending to a nest, and yesterday we were treated to a special event…the first look at a 3-day-old chick being fed in the nest by a proud mom and an attentive dad.

Here, Dad is returning to the nest carrying a prairie dog, freshly harvested from a prairie dog town a few miles away.
The “handoff” as Mom helps by grabbing onto the meal as Dad lines up the nest for a landing.
Our first good look at the chick, as Mom begins to prepare the prairie dog for feeding by pre-digesting it in her gut, the new chick not quite ready to handle fresh meat straight from a kill.
Proud Dad admires his brood, as Mom seems to be saying, “You call that a meal? Go get desert!”
With that, Dad is off again. It’s a non-stop job, feeding a family of three or more.
Catch, deliver, repeat…
Meal preparation, redtail hawk style.
Mom and Baby.

Happy 50th. Earth Day

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. To recognize its importance to those of us who cherish the natural beauty of this tiny planet we call home, I got out at 4:00 a.m. this morning to capture the Milky Way, including the galactic center which is now visible after its long winter nap below the horizon. This image captures the entire bow of the Milky Way, nearly from horizon to horizon…a sort of “MilkyWay-Bow” (with no rain, a rainbow is not an option this Earth Day). A Happy Earth Day to all!

Spring in Big Bend

As we all continue to deal with indoor confinement, we’re still finding ways to get outside for exercise, and in our case, primarily by bicycle. Spring here in Big Bend doesn’t know that it’s under a “shelter at home” order, and so it follows its normal pattern of the seasons. This year the wildflowers are far less spectacular than in years past, but we’ve managed to capture a few signs of spring by taking a camera with us while riding through the surrounding desert. Here are a few images that made us smile this past week:

Ocotillo:

IMG_6965 ocotillo cactus

Dog Cholla:

IMG_6970 flowers dog cholla

Purple Prickly Pear:

IMG_6982 flowers purple prickly pear

Strawberry Pitaya:

IMG_6979 flowers strawberry pitaya cactus

Bluebonnets:

IMG_7034 bluebonnets flowers

Another sure sign of spring is the mating ritual of wild turkey. These gobblers were “struttin’ their stuff” just off the Post Road near town:

P1110400 turkey

P1110427 turkey

Not far away, pronghorn antelope had moved closer to town with fewer humans out and about to scare them away:

P1110370 pronghorn

P1110366 pronghorn

And finally, this roadrunner decided to play “tag” with my camera, staying just far enough ahead of me to elude posing for a decent photo:

P1110453 roadrunner

It’s spring…get outside whenever you can for sun and exercise. It will brighten your spirits and get you away from that computer screen! Stay safe and well.